HARRISON – A 26-year-old man who was paralyzed from a fall in a house he was building for his fiancee and himself will be flown to Atlanta today to begin a month of intensive physical therapy.
Jeremy Baker will leave Central Maine Medical Center in Lewiston, where he has been a patient since the June 21 accident for the Shepard Center in Georgia to begin the next step in his slow but important progress back to Harrison, where he will be married to Kate Bradley on Sept. 1.
Bradley will accompany him to the assisted living facility in order to learn along with Baker how to deal with everyday living. “She will learn how to keep him healthy and functioning as well as she can,” said her sister, Sara Bradley.
The couple want to be back in Oxford County in about six weeks to prepare for their wedding.
“All systems are go,” said Sara, who is acting as wedding coordinator for the couple. They’ve known each other for the past seven years.
Baker and his future father-in-law were building Baker’s new home in Waterford on June 21. Climbing down a ladder from the second story, Baker slipped and fell, landing on a concrete floor. The impact damaged his spine, leaving him paralyzed from the chest down.
Baker, a survey technician and active snowmobiler, snowboarder and dirt bike rider, was flown by medical helicopter to CMMC where he underwent six hours of surgery.
“The two of them are in this for the long haul,” said Sara of her sister and future brother-in-law.
“He’s an outdoorsy type of guy who lives life to the fullest. We can’t fathom he will be a couch potato after this,” she added.
Along with the physical and mental challenges the couple faces, they also face incredible medical bills. “Astronomical,” was the only word Sara used to describe the mounting medical bills. “He is uninsured, like many of us.”
The communities of Harrison and Waterford, where the couple will be living, immediately rallied around the couple to help raise funds for the young man.
“There are lots of things he will need to live a really good life,” Sara said. The house is being remodeled to accommodate his handicap and fundraisers have been ongoing for weeks.
Waterford Selectman John Bell described Baker, his friend and occasional employee, as a terrific young man who would “give you the shirt off his back.”
Although Baker grew up and attended schools in Harrison, where many fundraising events have been ongoing, Bell said that Waterford wants to make sure the couple gets off to a good start in their new hometown. As a result, the Waterford-Stoneham Lions Club decided to donate the proceeds from the annual yard sale on July 28 to Baker. The yard sale will be held at the Waterford Municipal Building from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. that day.
On Aug. 11, there will be an all-day event at the Oxford County Fairgrounds, including a silent auction and three local bands playing to raise money for Baker.
Sara said that efforts to raise money will continue and anyone interested in further information on events can go to the Web page www.GetJeremyRolling.com.
“We’re just at the beginning our our fundraising. There’s a long road ahead of us,” she said.